Review of ‘Sad, the Dog’

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Written by Sandy Fussell. Illustrated by Tull Suwannakit.

Publisher: Walker Books

Age Range: early childhood – middle primary (and adult dog/sentiment lovers!)

Themes: pets; love; care; family; survival; resilience; happiness; seeking happiness.

To purchase this book for your home, school or classroom library, click on title links or cover images.  Sad cover

An ode to finding the one who brings out the best in you—and makes you feel as special as you are.

A clever little dog christens himself “Sad” when his humans fail to give him a name. Although they feed him and wash him, they don’t appreciate his many gifts, like his love of singing (“stop that yapping!”). When the people move away and leave Sad behind, Sad is heartbroken. But then a new family with a young boy arrives at Sad’s house in a big truck.

Tear-jerker of a book alert! When ‘Sad, the Dog’ arrived in the mail I knew immediately it was going to be a tear-jerker because, a) all dog books make me cry and b) the dog was called ‘Sad’ and he named himself. Pass the tissues. DSC07003-001

I’ve long-loved the writing of Sandy Fussell, and I know more than a few of my colleagues who do too (looking at you Mrs Howden!). She’s a consummate writer of middle grade fiction and she knows how to engage an audience. But picture book author? I was not skeptical, as she’s skilled, but I was interested to see where Sandy would go with this venture.

Sandy has, of course, triumphed, and I hope she stays in picture book world for a little longer as I do so love the world of picture books. Sandy even knows how to really share a picture book with a young audience and extend the reading experience into something truly magical – check out her makerspace ideas for for the book here.

Paired with illustrator Tull Suwannakit, ‘Sad, the Dog’ is a multi-layered text of great beauty and gentle wisdom. The text can be shared with a kindy class and wonderful discussions will arise about caring for pets, what pets need, and how we all need love and kindness shown to us in order that we flourish. It could just as easily be read and studied by middle primary readers as an exquisite example of the craft of picture books – the interplay between text and illustrations, the multiple levels on which a picture book can work and the depth of feeling which can be harnessed in so few words and images. Then there is the adult readers. Oh my wordy. On first reading, it is a story of an un-loved dog. On every subsequent reading (and then as you’re driving along in the car pondering the themes of the book) it is every person, young or old, who is unloved in the world and is aware that they are unloved by the world.

Tull Suwannakit’s illustrations are in perfect harmony with the text. The emotions on the faces of his people (disdain, loathing, disinterested and utter love) are only surpassed by the emotion he manages to convey on Sad, the Dog’s face. The colour palette is sophisticated, as is his illustration style, but there is still warmth and major child appeal in every image. DSC07006-001

Not only did Sandy jump into the world of picture books, she also re-discovered her love of knitting with ‘Sad, the Dog’ and one lucky reader, thanks to Walker Books and Sandy Fussell’s knitting skills, will win a copy of ‘Sad, the Dog’ and a knitted Sad dog – who needs lots of loving.

Entrants are required to leave a comment on the blog post associated the promotion and/or on the Facebook post associated with the giveaway and/or on the Instagram post associated with the post and be a newsletter subscriber.

COMP CLOSED: Congratulations to Jodie DSC06994-001

If you are a knitter, you can make your own Sad and show him lots of love as Sandy has provided a detailed pattern (getting nan onto it when she’s finished my next crocheted blanket!). You can download the pattern here: Sad the Dog Knitting-Patten_WEB or by clicking on the image below.

Sad the Dog

The Fine Print

In the interest of transparency, I have received nothing in return for hosting this giveaway. My aim is just to spread the literary love, Thanks to Walker Books Australia and Sandy Fussell for the prize.

How to enter

The ‘Sad, the Dog’ giveaway commences midday (AEDT) on Friday 9/10/15 and ends midday Friday 16/10/15.

Entrants are required to leave a comment on the blog post associated the promotion and/or on the Facebook post associated with the giveaway and/or on the Instagram post associated with the post and be a newsletter subscriber.

Terms and Conditions

Entry is open to residents of Australia only. Persons entering must be over 18 years of age.

Entry is a game of skill and chance plays no part in determining a winner.

Winners will be chosen by three CBD editors/guest bloggers/publishers/authors, from all eligible entries received.

Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Winners will be contacted via comment function on the blog entry or Facebook status update or email address.

If a winner is unable to be contacted or does not claim their Prize within 14 days the prize will be forfeited.

In the event of forfeiture a further draw will be conducted within 14 days and a new winner will be selected.


The Prize will be sent to the winner’s address by Megan Daley, Children’s Books Daily.

Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash.

We have the beautiful Tyson in our house, and he reminds me very much of the character, Sad, at the start of this story. Tyson is all kinds of anxious and had a rough start to life until he came to live with us. It’s not all smooth sailing with Tyson, but he is loved.

Tyson-Dog with a limited edition print from 'Lucky'

For more on ‘Sad, the Dog’ join in the fun of the Blog Book Tour this week!

A touching look into the life of an unloved pet and the heart-warming journey towards finding your true home.

Sad, The Dog

by Sandy Fussell and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit.

Thursday 1st October, Kids’ Book Review
Friday 2nd October, Kirsty Eager’s Blog
Saturday 3rd October, Writing for Children
Sunday 4th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog
Monday 5th October, Susanne Gervay’s Blog
Tuesday 6th October, Boomerang Books Blog
Wednesday 7th October, The Book Chook
Thursday 8th October, Creative Kids Tales
Friday 9th October, DeeScribe Writing Blog
Saturday 10th October, Reading Upside Down
Sunday 11th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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  1. Louise on Oct 9, 2015 at 8:41 am

    What a beautiful book. I am constantly amazed by the power of pets – for both the owner and the animal. i look forward to immersing myself and my students in this book and all its layers. Thanks for sharing the wonders of Sandy’s writing with us.

  2. Gypsy on Oct 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Oh my, this is definitely on my list for Christmas I have a couple of dog lovers here who are also sad because we rent and won’t be getting a dog anytime soon. It looks lovely. (And I’ll have to gently convince the 15 year old to knit that wee puppy up for her 4 year old brother. 🙂

  3. Helen on Oct 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    We also have a Sad, albeit a super large one, when he was literal abandoned by his owners on the side of the road when they realised how big he was… fancy a Great Dane growing up to be a big bounding slobbery pooch! When we found him & called, we were simply told that he was no longer wanted. Heartbreaking. He is now utterly adored by our 18 monther (quite possibly TOO much) but hopefully, we can (over)compensate for his previous hurt. This sounds like a beautiful book. Thanks for the great review!

    • Megan Daley on Oct 11, 2015 at 7:13 am

      Oh that is the most GORGEOUS story. I adore Great Danes…

  4. Helen on Oct 9, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Man I hate autocorrect – apologies for all the grammatical errors in the above post. Argh.

  5. Gypsy on Oct 9, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    This one has gone on my Christmas list for one dog loving 4 year old who yearns for the day we own our own home- and can finally own a real dog! He’s already requested his big sister knit him his own Sad. 🙂

    • Megan Daley on Oct 11, 2015 at 7:13 am

      That is LOVELY!

  6. Lucy Robins on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    What a beautiful book! I have been a dog lover my whole life and simply cannot live without one! Dog’s really become part of our families. A house without a dog…has no pet hair on the sofa!

  7. Nina D on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I love picture books so much and hope my two little babes (6 and 4) never grow out of them! I’d love this book for my Miss 6 in particular – she is so fearful of dogs and has always been. I wonder whether a story like this might help her see dogs in a new light?? It certainly looks wonderful to me.

  8. Mrs P on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Oh! I’d love to give this book to my teaching partner. She loves dogs, and just lost one of hers. I think she’d love this…especially the cute Sad cuddly toy!

  9. Joanne Curry on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:34 am

    I need this book for more maker space inspiration. I also have a student who I think needs to hear this story!

  10. Fiona on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    So cute… I love that there is a knitting pattern as toys can really help transition the ideas in a book into daily life… Like my friend Scaredy Squirrel… Love how you said you pondered later about all those unloved in the community…

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